FAST: ‘More to do’ on anti-piracy initiative

A new development on pirated films and music online comes as a step forward on the road to reducing mass copyright infringement. However, for the UK’s Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), as intellectual property (IP) plays an important role in supporting the UK’s economy, the Government must take a keener interest in enforcement measures to protect it.

Google and Microsoft have signed up to a trial that will mean having sight of the search results they provide to unlawful websites. Under the new voluntary code, the technology giants will demote websites that have been repeatedly served with copyright infringement notices, meaning they will appear lower down on the search engine rankings.

According to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), around 15 per cent of UK Internet users (16.7 million Britons) access pirated material online. Despite the new code being voluntary, the office will monitor how Google and Bing act over the next few months. The IPO has suggested that failure to demote pirated content from the top search engine results pages could lead to legislation with imposition of deterrent measures.

“Google and Bing remain two of the most successful search engines and therefore naturally the sources where illegal content is found, so this move was expected,” noted Julian Heathcote Hobbins, General Counsel. “Whether on software or content, downloading non-genuine is simple and usually at zero cost which gives perpetrators an incentive to engage in this activity, possibly as a loss leader for other deeds. Rarely is digital product free full stop and often requires investment and support.”

“Previously, Google and Microsoft have been accused of turning a blind eye to such content piracy which has been met by years of campaigning by the creative industry. It has been reported that the creative industries are worth £36 billion a year to the British economy and employ 1.5 million people.”

“However, the system remains one of reactive notice and takedown. Strides are still to be made and we focus on converting the customer who may be caught out looking for a good deal and wants to be a legitimate user. Perhaps a missing ingredient is action pioneered by the Government to work with the industry to develop and maintain a list of perpetrators who proliferate mass infringement. Or, for example, whether there could be collaboration of sites where a common goal is to hinder pirates from continuously rotating sites,” he suggested.

“Piracy is also linked to cybercrime. This has serious and real life impacts on you and I as user digital security, and therefore trust, is eroded which can hinder the take up of the genuine services, whether for content and/or software.”

“So, we welcome the new code but also understand that there are further challenges with technology being misused by the deliberate pirate. The code is a step in the right direction and encourages access to genuine copies of content. Retaining customer trust in access to the genuine software and content experience matters most,” he declared.

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